True Remedies 5: Exercise

Action is a law of our being. Every organ of the body has its appointed work, upon the performance of which its development and strength depend. The normal action of all the organs gives strength and vigour, while the tendency of disuse is toward decay and death. Bind up an arm, even for a few weeks, then free it from its bands, and you will see that it is weaker than the one you have been using moderately during the same time. Inactivity produces the same effect upon the whole muscular system.

Inactivity is a fruitful cause of disease. Exercise quickens and equalizes the circulation of the blood, but in idleness the blood does not circulate freely, and the changes in it, so necessary to life and health, do not take place. The skin, too, becomes inactive. Impurities are not expelled as they would be if the circulation had been quickened by vigorous exercise, the skin kept in a healthy condition, and the lungs fed with plenty of pure, fresh air. This state of the system throws a double burden on the excretory organs, and disease is the result. Ellen G. White Ministry of Healing, p. 237, 238.

I feel almost justified in writing about exercise on the day the group from my local church went for morning singing walk in the neighbourhood of the church. As usual I was late but the walk as well as the activities were uplifting for body and mind.

Every good doctor will advise you, or ought to advise you, to exercise so long as it will not harm you. I pulled an old medical volume from my shelf to help me to shape my discourse on this vital topic:

“Fitness may be defined as that condition of body and mind which places you at the best advantage as you face the challenges of human experience. Fitness enables you to feel well and radiate your good feeling. It promotes you resistance to disease so that you may escape many of the illnesses that would otherwise interrupt your chosen activities. It prolongs your life and enriches it with added satisfaction. It enables you to enjoy the rewards of abundant living.” Shryock & Hardinge, 1985.

Fast food and lack of exercise pose serious health threat to Caribbean teens as I write. Obesity is in the news.

Youth is the time to develop good habits of physical exercise. The above-quoted authorities believe that today’s youth improved life expectancy results form conquest of infectious diseases by modern medical science, not form being “inherently more robust.”

“A heart never put to the stretch to supply the demands of active muscles will not develop the strength and endurance necessary for lifelong physical fitness.”

Take stock of yourself. Are you spending too much time at the computer screen? Thereby losing valuable real world interactions and exercise?

Farmville is all the craze. The world and his wife are playing this online PC game on Facebook. Just log into Facebook and somebody’s cow has escaped or some eager farmer is expanding his acreage. Well compared to some other games out there this web game appears innocent and wholesome, just by hearing about it. And so much exercise, for the fingers. My backyard farm is woefully in need of weeding, so I could not in good conscience give a second thought to the virtual farming game on Facebook. My friend Jimmy who sold me the yam heads has begged me to fertilise the yam hills or they will ‘cast’. And the banana roots need to be cleaned, cut back, and transplanted. The sweet potato on the hillside is overrun with weeds. Just in case I feel too lazy to venture down the steep slope into the mini-farm which is begging for my attention, I could get a fair workout, and some thorns in the flesh too, by picking out the mimosa (Shame Old Lady OR Shamer Macka) out of the Zoysia grass between the tank and the clothes line in the rear lawn.

The home gym is still on the shopping list so I must make do with what real exercise I can get. So I dare not give up one minute of weeding my yam piece, or planting cassava for the online version.

For my dear, dear friends locked away in the concrete jungle of large cities without the time to enjoy the open spaces for recreation or agriculture, then I suppose a great online Farmville escape is good for the mind.

I spend enough time at the computer playing scrabble or just writing articles. And visiting the forums. Yea those forums. And you know what sedentary activities do to the circulation. I promised the family that we would have all kinds of fun this year going to play football or whatever game they wanted to play. The best laid resolutions of mice and men…


I was just passing through a Labour Day community project in this shot but you get the general idea. Photo by Glendon Caballero Jnr.
I was just passing through a Labour Day community project in this shot but you get the general idea. Photo by Glendon Caballero Jnr.

The backyard will have to do until we figure our how to get out of bed and down to the university field early in the morning.  So I am no agricultural hero.  I just happen to have a real mini-farm in my backyard, to do real exercise, to get away form the computer screen and do some real work. 

Try it.  Plant a backyard garden, weed it, fertilise it, irrigate it.  And reap the produce. 

Right now I am enjoying home grown cooked green bananas, sweet bananas and June Plum.

We rob our children of a vital discipline whenever we aid and abet them in avoiding manual labour at home and school.  Man was created and placed in a garden for a reason.  We need to exercise our limbs in the open air with regularity and reason.  The rising tide of obesity is shifting our people into the diabetes and cardiovascular vulnerabilities that threaten the health of nations. (Kind of rhymes with Adam Smith’s ‘Wealth of Nations’).

The Black Diaspora has been conditioned to see farming, especially small scale peasant type farming, as akin to slavery, and any means of upward mobility comes with rejection of everything connected with the land, including manual labour of tilling soil, sowing, weeding, and reaping.

The human body was created for movement and load bearing, however light, and all the systems of the body require regular exercise.  Something as simple and fundamental as deep breathing will invigorate the lungs and heart and as a result the entire system.

Many readers  are on a regular exercise programme and can testify of the benefits.  Some of you will be in the same boat that I am; clinging to intermittent opportunistic workouts by any means necessary.  I do lifting and walking with my job, I spend at least ½ hour in my garden every two weeks or so.  And when I feel a bit stressed will do some aerobics, but I don’t have a regular routine.  Well I do take my nigh time workout vey seriously, and most of the time it is exhilarating.  Which night time workout and how often is for me to know and you to find out.

There was a time a few years back when I used to play the odd game of soccer with friends.  Weekend warriors.

Then there are those blessed mornings when my wife and I are up very early and I would summon her to a session of aerobics, not what you are thinking, just some regular exercises. I am very familiar with the tae Kwan Do warm up routine, great stretches.

Walking is a wonderful exercise but I am a bit hyper so I prefer to run.  I have run in High Mountain 5k and High Mountain 10k. Just being able to complete the latter was an achievement. But I am not running now and badly out of shape.  .  Maybe writing this article wail stir me to renew my resolution to develop a regular morning exercise programme.

Until then the occasional foray into my little backyard farm will do.   Sorry Farmville, after all that promotion of Facebook Scrabble one would think I would seek to balance the picture with a line or two in your favour, but I barely have time to sharpen my cutlass (machete) and attack those persistent weeds.

I tried so hard to be modest but I can still hear the chorus of “show off!” 

Never mind, you are welcome to join me; just bring your own hoe and machete.  And don’t walk on the turnips.

Here are six benefits of a programme of physical fitness:

1.        Your heart rate will become slower, both when resting and when exercising.

2.       Your blood pressure will be slightly reduced.  So the heart is pumping more blood in a given time although it beats more slowly.

3.       As the heart increases it’s work capacity the coronary arteries become healthier and reduce risk of heart attack.

4.       Your stamina increases so you are less prone to fatigue.  This improves you resistance to disease.

5.       Reduction of fat tissue, and increase of muscle tissue.

6.       The entire body is tones up by improved respiration and circulation.  Happier moods are more likely.

7.       Exercise should be a part of the regimen of treating the sick with nature’s true remedies.

Here are some more relevant quotes from Ellen G. White's book on the ministry of healing.

Persons over 40 or recovering form severe illness should consult physician before launching an exercise programme.

And daily period of exercise in advisable, not weekend warrior approach.

I will give the last many words to Ellen G White, the inspired and inspiring writer mentioned earlier.  I cite but a few statements found in the book Ministry of healing p.228-240.

      When invalids have nothing to occupy their time and attention, their thoughts become centered upon themselves, and they grow morbid and irritable. Many times they dwell upon their bad feelings until they think themselves much worse than they really are and wholly unable to do anything.  (p.239.)

 Exercise aids the dyspeptic by giving the digestive organs a healthy tone.  but a short walk after a meal, with the head erect and the shoulders back, is a great benefit.  {MH 240.2}

     Notwithstanding all that is said and written concerning its importance, there are still many who neglect physical exercise. Some grow corpulent because the system is clogged; others become thin and feeble because their vital powers are exhausted in disposing of an excess of food. The liver is burdened in its effort to cleanse the blood of impurities, and illness is the result.  {MH 240.3}

     Those whose habits are sedentary should, when the weather will permit, exercise in the open air every day, summer or winter. Walking is preferable to riding or driving, for it brings more of the muscles into exercise. The lungs are forced into healthy action, since it is impossible to walk briskly without inflating them.  {MH 240.4}

     Such exercise would in many cases be better for the health than medicine. Physicians often advise their patients to take an ocean voyage, to go to some mineral spring, or to visit different places for change of climate, when in most cases if they would eat temperately, and take cheerful, healthful exercise, they would recover health and would save time and money.  {MH 240.5}

Photo by Glendon Caballero Jnr.
Photo by Glendon Caballero Jnr.

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